Stabilizing Those in CRISIS County officials, leaders share update on Arkansas’ four CSUs


n Aug. 10, 2018, Gov. Asa Hutchinson an- nounced his plan to open four crisis stabi- lization units (CSUs)

across Arkansas in Craighead, Pulaski, Sebastian and Washington counties. His announcement came after the

Arkansas legislature passed Act 423 of 2017, which called for the funding of three units, totaling $5 million.

Sebastian County Te Sebastian County Five West Crisis

Stabilization Unit, located on Te Guid- ance Center campus in Fort Smith, has been operating since March 2018. It was the first CSU to open in the state and the “first integrated system in the United States,” according to Gov. Hutchinson.

Te 16-bed CSU sees on average 88 patients a month, which “means we’ve had a good month,” said Te Guidance Center CEO Rusti Holwick. “We try not to get above 13 at a time; we have reached capacity a cou- ple of times,” Holwick said.

Holwick works with a team of healthcare professionals that provide patients with individual therapy, group therapy, case management, medication management and after-care planning. “Our staff is just so well coordinated,

they really are,” Holwick said. “Tey are kind of a family.” Te Guidance Center staff has not only gelled with each other, they’ve synced well with county and local agencies in order to keep residents go- ing through a mental crisis out of jail and in a safe place where they can re- ceive the help they desperately need.

“It’s really been a learning experience for all us,” Holwick said. “And we have really have done pretty good for those of us who don’t normally interact. Now we have good relationships with the judges, with the sheriffs, and the jails and the law enforcement officers, and EMTs and ambulance drivers.” CSU staff also has formed bonds with patients. “We have success stories all of the

time,” said CSU Director Joey Potts. She recalls one specific patient who has been to jail multiple times and is a regular at the CSU.

Te state originally allocated funds

for three CSUs, but after receiving four applications, Hutchinson requested an additional $1.4 million from the state’s Rainy Day fund to ensure the opening of all four CSUs. “Tese crisis stabilization units prom- ise to provide a great deal of help to our state, not merely in helping [alleviate] jail overcrowding and assisting our first- responders, but also in making sure that

those who need help are more likely to get it,” Hutchinson said. Fast-forward a year. How are the

CSUs faring? AAC asked county judges, sheriffs and CSU directors and others, how the units are helping the mentally unstable,

jails, law enforcement and

their communities. — Story & Photos by Holland Doran

Patient beds in the Sebastian County Five West Crisis Stabilization Unit. 26


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